Located in central Thailand, Lop Buri spreads across more than 6,000 square miles, bordering Phetchabun, Nakhon Sawan, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Rachasima, Sing Buri, Aytthaya, Ang Thong and Saraburi. The province has been home to a number of significant archeological discoveries, including prehistoric settlements and recovered ancient artifacts.
Lop Buri (known previously as Lawo) has a rich and turbulent history of multiple occupations by warring kingdoms. Relics from the Bronze Age to the Ratanakosim period have been discovered within the province, showing a unique blend of eastern and western influence. Lop Buri truly holds an extraordinary and alluring place in history.
First formed during the 6th- 11th centuries, the initial settlers are believed to have been the Lawa. Though by the 10th century, the city was occupied by the Khmers. Thus, Khmer Mahayana Buddhism was a major influencer of the architectural style of the city (a tradition that would come to be known as Lop Buri Style). The remains of these ancient ruins include San Phra Kan, Wat Phra Si Mahathat, Phra Prang Sam Yot, and the Shivas Shrine, also known as Prang Khaek.
Toward the latter part of the 13th century, Lop Buri came to be ruled by the Thais. The establisher of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, King U-Tong, sent his son, Ramesuan, to govern Lop Buri. The crown prince authorized the building of numerous towers, moats and the city walls.
The golden age of Lop Buri came in 1664 when it was named the second capitol of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. King Narai the Great led an initiative to restore Lop Buri to its former glory, employing French architects to design much of the city’s architecture. This western influence can still be seen in the ruins of the royal palace and complex.
After King Narai the Great’s death, Lop Buri began to fade from the political scene, only to return nearly 200 years later when it was restored by King Rama IV during the Ratanakosim Era. He was particularly intent on restoring the old palace, naming it Narai Ratchaniwet Palace in honor of King Narai the Great.
Soon after the country’s democratic revolution, a military camp was built near Lop Buri’s railroad. This systematically divided the city into two zones—ancient and new.
Today, Lop Buri is divided into 11 districts: Muang, Ban Mi, Chai Badan, Khok Charoen, Khok Samrong, Phatthana Nikhom, Tha Luang, Tha Wung, Sa Bot, Lam Sonthi and Nong Muang.
Besides Lop Buri’s obvious historical and archelogical attractions, many tourist come to visit Sap Langka Wildlife Sanctuary. Of particular note is the abundant population of monkeys that roam the city. Many travellers refer to Lop Buri as “land of the monkeys.” In fact, the people of the province see the monkeys as descendents of Hanuman, the creator of the kingdome according to the Ramayana. The people of Lop Buri make daily offerings of food to the monkeys, culminating in an annual feast held at Phra Prang Sam Yot at the end of November. This is one of the most renowned festivals in all of Thailand.